Apprenticeship Skills Extend Across Borders

Apprenticeship Skills Extend Across Borders

| By: Britten, Casey

IN PHOTO (left to right): Randy Lorge, plumbing apprenticeship instructor, and students Rebaone Mothibi, Victor Masombuka, and Juliet Malambe

A global element was added to this year’s Fox Valley Technical College Apprentice Banquet.

Three students from South Africa joined in the celebration of more than 140 completers of apprenticeship training at FVTC. The international students are putting the finishing touches on their own studies in information technology, but before preparing to return to South Africa, they made a stop at the May 4 banquet to develop new global connections.

Plumbing Apprenticeship Instructor Randy Lorge led Team USA to Diepsloot, South Africa in 2016 as part of the annual Community Plumbing Challenge to improve sanitation conditions of public restrooms for nearly 80,000 people who share 700 of these deteriorating and often vandalized facilities. The two-week excursion included two FVTC plumber apprentices and fellow employee Kerri Nevala, in addition to two engineers and an instructor from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. (Read more: Apprentices Improve Health Conditions Abroad >>)

Team USA integrated its talents with other participating nations to build a prototype public restroom for the impoverished region in Diespsloot. Lives were changed forever and smiles replaced fear as the skilled craftsmen and women built some replacement restrooms in the little time they had. More importantly, the international teams left a blueprint and prototype of the restroom behind so the citizens could continue the work to upgrade their community. A charitable foundation was also established to help keep the effort funded.

Lorge likens the work of plumbers as being at the heart of the world’s health. Conditions in some parts of Diepsloot include raw sewage running through yards in residential neighborhoods. Modifications to sewage flow and the modernization of toilet fixture installation and handwashing stations were among the primary upgrades made by the initiative supported by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. The new facilities were built to withstand most forms of vandalism as well—a reoccurring problem in this part of Diepsloot.

A second prototype of the restroom was on display during the May 4 apprentice event, which featured a keynote address by Lorge about his visit to Diepsloot and what lies ahead this fall in Indonesia with the Council’s latest project. The three international students reside in the greater Johannesburg area and will serve as volunteer communication liaisons between the project and Lorge’s initiatives.

The completers of the 2017 apprentice programs represent employer-supported skilled trades training at FVTC in the areas of:

  • Construction Electrician
  • Cosmetology
  • Electronic Systems Technician
  • Industrial Electrician
  • Machinist
  • Maintenance Mechanic/Millwright
  • Maintenance Technician
  • Pipefitter
  • Plumber
  • Steamfitter
  • Steamfitter Service
  • Tool & Die